Leading article

Dissident republicans are engaged in a futile campaign

In October 2014, police searching farm buildings near Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, uncovered a substantial haul of bomb making equipment and ammunition linked to dissident republicans.

By any standards this was a major find and included improvised explosive devices, timer units, fertiliser, detonating cord and a mortar base.

Arrested at the time was Barry Francis Joseph Petticrew, originally from Swanlinbar in Co Cavan, who was initially charged with five offences.

At Belfast Crown Court yesterday he pleaded guilty to three of the charges, namely possessing explosives with intent to endanger life, possessing articles for use in terrorism and possessing ammunition with intent.

Clearly, these are very serious offences and Petticrew, now aged 45, can expect a lengthy term of imprisonment when he is sentenced in October.

It is obviously a relief that these deadly materials have been taken out of the hands of people determined to kill police and prison officers.

But it is profoundly depressing that yet another person faces spending a long time in jail as the result of this futile dissident campaign.

It is a campaign that has achieved absolutely nothing except causing untold misery to the families of those they have killed and led to far too many young men languishing in prison instead of spending their lives constructively, establishing a home and making a positive contribution to society.

Anyone tempted to get involved with these groups should think carefully about the likely consequences for them and their families.

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Leading article